A comment about movements

(From Ustura Al Shamali -89, copyright C. Edling)

Without claiming to write anything final about the movement of the saluki, on the lines below I would like to air some thoughts. The movements should be at the focus judging sighthounds, but unfortunately judges of today seems to lack both knowledge of, as well as interest for, correct saluki-movements. Slipshod front-movements, knock-kneed rear-movements and under/over reaching are accepted. In other words, there is room for some thoughts.

When one sits at the ringside today studying salukis, one are struck by the fact that very few individuals have the "typical" light, lifting and effortless movements. I use "" around typical since nobody really knows what typical saluki-movements should look like. When reading descriptions from long ago about these same movements, one gets a feeling that the writers of 50-80 years back wrote about an already fairly seldom seen ideal.


Lady Florence Amherst (Kennel Amherstia from the beginning of the last century) wrote in Hutchingson's Dog Encyclopedia: "The action of the Saluki is different from that of a Greyhound. It is more springy when walking, and at a trot it is more prancing, which is a striking point." Patricia Kean (Kennel Ajman) said regarding movements and their dancing character: "The really characteristic saluki-movements...light and with an element of dance that does not waste energy by flinging the feets around, but gives an impression of the dog being airborne". Yet another old breeder, Mrs H.M. Parkhouse (Kennel Shammar) wrote 1958: "I have for a time now been of the opinion that we stand the risk of loosing the typical saluki-movements, who ought to be lighter and more prancing. During WW2 judges showed more consideration for movements than what they do today and if a dog did not move with the correct exquisite, prancing movements it would not have been awarded any place in the prize list". Brian Chambers said: "Are we about to loose that which constitues breed-specific movements? With this I mean the special freedom in moving coupled with extreme lightness and utmost grace. Our breed shall not be plodders". C.J. Applebee quoted Henry V but changed his wording about horses to salukis: "He moves through the air, the earth sings when he touches it, ...He is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him"

A number of keywords can be found: prancing, floating, springy, airborne, light, utmost grace and freedom in movement.


We know only a little of how the movements of the original saluki. To view animals at shows is a relatively modern occurrence. In the showring the dogs are only judged at the trot, and man have always had problems judging movements correct. The transfer of the legs and the order in which they move are much too complicated to be perceived with ones eyes only. Reproductions of the movement was faulty well into the nineteenth century, it was only when slideshow-photographs appeared that we started to understand it all. With this as a starting point, horses and dogs have been judged mostly at the trot, although in the case of horses also at the gallop. The basic thought judging salukis at the trot is that there is a connection between respective dog's trot and gallop when it comes to efficiency and stamina. Furthermore, a number of practical aspects of what constitues good movements have been developed.


During the last decades dogs' movements have been studied in detail by filming them. One who has done such studies is Rachel Page Elliot, and her description goes as follows: "The Saluki falls into the category of hounds built for great speed at the gallop, but at the show ring he must be judged at the trot. Though the trot does not reveal the boldness in the hunt, it does tell us much about his skeletal structure and physical condition. At this gait I look for lightness of movement with a proud searching head carriage. From the side I look for a firm working back with freedom in the shoulders and smooth opening of the shoulder joints. Rear action should be rhythmic and effortless, with no over-reaching or side-stepping. The gait should have a spring without stiltedness, fluidity without extreme effort. Coming and going, the limbs from the shoulders and hips to the pads, should swing without twisting as they fold and extend, even as they reach inward towards the central support beneath the body. Call it single tracking, the tendency to single track, or convergence, as you will - but not parallel tracking, because nature did not so design a Saluki."


In my view it is the moment of suspension and elasticity in a salukis movement that is specific for the breed, these are the things we must look for and learn to recognize. The easiest way to do that is to study those that have such - or similar - movements. Among the Shamalisaluki's there are a few individuals that clearly have it, and of course at other breeders as well, Int Ch Schiram Ibicus and his son Int Ch Kashmani's Lanthir Abshar amongst others. In my view, the following Shamali salukis are good examples: Usur, Yawir, Bazin, Basaq and Calif. It would be very interesting to have been able to videotape these dogs together, since it would have provided an opportunity to compare and study them in detail. interesting enough all my examples are males. Are there no bitches with the same movements? Among the Shamali salukis, Rihla, Ummi, Yamina and Yafa have very effective and light movements, but the moment of suspension were and are not present in the same manner. Still, it would have been interesting to compare videotapes with the three living bitches against above mentioned males.

My conclusion becomes that we need to study the phenomenon closer and in more detail. If we learn to recognize these movements and can identify the dogs that have them, then by careful and thought-through breeding we can preserve and strenghten this unique characeristic of the saluki. Let us hope this is possible!